On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, the Hadejia Emirate Council of Jigawa State announced the death of Air Vice Marshal Hamza Abdullahi who died in a German hospital after a brief illness at the age of 73. Born in Hadejia, Abdullahi attended the Nigerian Air Force Tactical Training Wing, Kaduna (1964), the Aircraft Technical Officers Course in West Germany (1964-1966) and the Royal Military Training Centre in Chichester, England (1974). In July 1975, Abdullahi was appointed air provost marshal.
AVM Abdullahi was appointed the Governor of Kano State in January 1984 by the then Head of State, Mj. Gen. Muhammad Buhari; Minister of Works, then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from 1985 to 1989 by President Ibrahim Babangida. He oversaw the construction of the Abuja – Kaduna – Kano dual carriage road, Phase I of Abuja, among others. He was promoted air vice-marshal in October 1988 and retired from the Nigerian Air Force two months later.
The remains of the late AVM Abdullahi were flown into the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, from Germany on Friday, January 4, and were received by the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Emir of Hadejia, HRH Alhaji Adamu Abubakar Maje, among other top government officials. The remains were then conveyed by the ambulance of the Nigerian Air Force to the emir’s palace in Kano where the funeral prayer took place at 10:00pm. He was then taken to the Tarauni Cemetery where he was finally laid to rest.
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In what appeared to be a combination of immense respect and rare display of humility, the Emir of Hadejia was at the grave working until the end of the burial rites. He suspended his palace activities for several days to receive condolences at the Hotoro residence of the late AVM Abdullahi in Kano, referring to the late AVM “father”.
The emir said, “Late AVM Hamza Abdullahi was a father to me; I grew up to see him together with my father. They were neighbours and very close friends even though my father was older than him. My grandfather, the late Emir of Hadejia, Alhaji Haruna Abdulkadir, died while Hamza was the Military Governor of Kano State, so he was very instrumental in the emergence of my father as the emir. It was indeed a great honour for the family and we hold him dear to our hearts.
“We were with him up to the time my father passed away. Jigawa State was created at that time and Ibrahim Saminu Turaki was elected governor. AVM Hamza played that same fatherly role. He prevailed on Gov. Turaki to ensure that I ascended the throne. Since then, we lived as father and son. We never argued, our relationship was solely that of mutual understanding and mutual respect. He did everything for me. I will never forget his contributions. We will always pray for him and also continue the good relationship with his family. We will take care of them to the best of our ability as he took care of us.”
The emir described Abdullahi as someone who loved humanity, education (both religious and western), and that he built Islamic schools and a Jumat Mosque in Hadejia.
The president, governors, some of his colleagues, friends and well-wishers paid tribute to him and these are what they said about him.
President Muhammadu Buhari expressed profound grief over the death of Hamza Abdullahi, saying, “He will be missed by his family and the nation for a long time.”
This was contained in a condolence message signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, and delivered by a Federal Government delegation led by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, in Kano.
The president observed that his services to the military, the FCT, the old Kano State and the nation would be long remembered.
The Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, during his condolence visit, described the death of AVM Hamza Abdullahi as, “A terrible loss to the people of Jigawa State and indeed the people of Nigeria”, adding that, “He was a pillar of development, especially to those of us that are in leadership. He was a father to us, he advised and counselled us on how best to serve people and his hands were always open. It’s a terrible loss!”
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmad, said, “The real meaning of a loss is that you are deprived of somebody who had been very relevant and important in your life, the life of his family, the life if his community, among his friends and indeed the life of the nation.”
The Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello, described AVM Hamza Abdullahi as an administrator per excellence, a man of the people, who did a lot when he was the Governor of Kano State.
In his tribute, a colleague and long time friend, Gen. Halliru Akilu, said, “I met Hamza as a young officer right when the civil war ended and we became friends: that is about 50 years now, and we became like family members and Gen. Babangida became a pillar. Hamza was very close to Babangida, as well as President Buhari who appointed him Governor of Kano State.”
On his achievements as a public servant, Gen. Akilu said AVM Hamza was a man of commitment who worked to promote the welfare of the people.
Akilu said further said it was AVM Abdullahi who resuscitated the idea of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano dual carriage road which was neglected for long as, “He took the file to President Babangida who gave him the go ahead to execute the project and it was done. The modernisation of Abuja was also during his time; as Maitama, Asokoro and Jabi districts were built. Equally, the Villa we are proud of today is the idea of Hamza Abdullahi, the military barracks built by the Babangida administration was one of the ideas of AVM Hamza. And they are world standard barracks.
A former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, described AVM Hamza Abdullahi as an honest, kind and patient man and that he was, “A person you would never see in any kind of controversy. He was trustworthy and worked diligently in wherever he was posted for the upliftment of the people. He held a lot of responsibilities and you would never find him wanting in anything he did and he was never accused of mismanagement.”
On the part of his family, his eldest son, Ibrahim Hamza Abdullahi, described his father as a strict but loving, caring and compassionate.
Ibrahim said, “My father was a very rigid man, a very strict man, but a very loving man, a very compassionate man. He did the right things and he was a very fair person. He would not give you more than you needed and he wouldn’t give you less. He would make sure you had everything you needed. He was my best friend and my memories of him as a young boy are too many. I was always with him.”
Alhaji Ibrahim Ismail who served as Commissioner for Internal Affairs and then Education during Hamza Abdullahi’s administration in Kano State, said, “I believe the then military administration found him roundly befitting and trusted him with the task of being the Military Governor of Kano State. He was a very thoughtful person, and he brought with him good sense of professionalism.”
His first ADC, Air Vice Marshal Nashehu Hassan Abubakar (Rtd), said the late AVM had so many qualities that one could not briefly describe.
AVM Abubakar said, “I met him when he became the Governor of Kano State and I worked with him for two years. We were always together except when he was going to sleep. I understood late AVM Hamza to be a man of impeccable characters. He was very hard working that I really found it very difficult to cope. But eventually, when I understood him, I worked with him successfully.”
A former Military Governor of old Kano State, Maj. Gen Idris Garba (Rtd), said, “In Kano State, he happened to be also from Kano at that time. He was an indigene of Kano and most of us relied on him after he left the office; at least to guide us, and that’s what happened.”
A former Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, said the life of AVM Hamza Abdullahi was a successful one as, “He contributed a lot to the people of old Kano State and Nigeria in general. I found him worthy as a father. I pray to Almighty Allah to forgive him and to grant Jannatul Firdausi for him.
Hamza Abdullah is survived by three wives: Hajiya Amina, Hajiya Halima and Hajiya Maryam, 17 children: seven males and 10 females, and his aged mother. May Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Jannatul Firdausi.